It usually takes decades for defunct nuclear plants in the United States to be taken apart and cleaned up so the land can be developed for other purposes. Long after the main facilities are dismantled and their sites remediated, spent fuel remains radioactive and takes years to cool off in pools before it can be safely placed in concrete cylinders—dry casks, in industry lingo—for interim storage that could last years or even decades. Utility companies stuck with these useless sites often delay the costly clean-ups as long as they possibly can. But Bob Salsberg reports for the Associated Press that a profit-hungry industry is emerging to rescue electric utilities that have little enthusiasm for dismantling their own aging nuclear power plants. Behind a promise of dramatically reduced decommissioning times, in some cases by as much as 50 years, a group of companies wants to buy the retired plants, take on the work of demolishing them, and manage storage of the spent fuel rods that will likely be stuck on the plants’ grounds for a very long time.
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 24th May 2019 read more »